Choosing and buying fabrics online

What is a fat quarter? This is the most common question that comes up when people start quilting, as fat quarters seem to be everywhere! In this guide we try to answer this question and others that may come up. It can be very overwhelming when you first come to buy fabric online - there are so many shops and thousands of different fabrics to choose from, so this guide should hopefully make things a little easier!

Fabric types

Firstly, you need to know what type of fabric you are buying. There are many types available, however most quilt shops (including Pelenna Patchworks) only sell specifically patchwork fabrics, which are 100% cotton, and designed for quilting. The thread count is typically around 120 (60 x 60) although some have a higher thread count of 205 (133 x 72) - these are all the Art Gallery Fabrics and the extra wide calico backing fabrics. As long as the patchwork fabrics you buy are all 100% cotton, you can't go wrong as they will all have similar properties when sewn and washed.

Fabric sizes

Patchwork fabrics sold online are usually priced in units of quarter metres, either fat quarters or long quarters. The diagram below shows the difference between the two - although different shapes, you get the same amount of fabric in each. Orders of over 1 unit are usually sent as a single piece, i.e. to order a metre of fabric you would need to buy 4 quarter metres.

What is a fat quarter.

To recap, as our most commonly asked question is 'how big is a fat quarter?', the sizes are as follows:

  • Fat quarter:  50cm x 55cm (approximately 20in x 22in)
  • Long quarter:  25cm x 110cm (approximately 10in x 44in)
  • Half metre:  50cm x 110cm (approximately 20in x 44in)
  • One metre:  100cm x 110cm (approximately 40in x 44in)

Fabric colours

Choosing colours can be a bit of a minefield, as how a fabric appears on your computer screen will depend on how it has been scanned or photographed, and on the settings of your computer. Here at Pelenna Patchworks we scan all our fabrics ourselves to get the truest colour representation - photographs will not be as accurate as the ambient lighting will affect the appearance of the fabrics. We also include a second scan on every fabric page that is done with a tape measure so you can see the scale of the pattern accurately.

Of course, many people prefer to see the fabrics 'in the flesh', especially if trying to match to another fabric - in this case requesting samples is the way to go. Here at Pelenna Patchworks we offer a free sample service, simply choose the sample option and add it to your basket for each of the fabrics you would like to see. Our fabric samples are sized at approximately 2.5 x 4 inches, and if you only order samples and no other goods you will only be charged 50p to cover postage.